Brian Wilson believes he’ll be ready opening day
Ever the optimist with his bold personality and bushy black
beard, Giants closer Brian Wilson deemed himself ahead of schedule
in his recovery from a second Tommy John elbow ligament replacement
surgery and insists he plans to be ready for opening day 2013.
That would be defying the odds for an operation that typically
has a recovery time of 18 months to two years – and can be a much
more difficult or longer process when it’s done twice on the same
arm. Still, Wilson is trying to be patient. He planned to ride a
stationary bike Wednesday for the first time since his April 19
surgery, performed in Florida by Dr. James Andrews.
A ligament from his leg was used in his elbow, so Wilson has to
be careful with any exercise at this stage. He spoke for the first
time since his procedure in a wide-ranging interview Wednesday at
his locker before San Francisco opened a quick two-game series
against the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
”I’ve had it done before, I know what to expect,” Wilson said,
noting he is staying upbeat. ”I don’t really have room for
negativity in my life. Early on you could think of all the negative
things that hinder you, but if you keep focusing on negativity,
then that’s exactly what you’ll produce. So I try to think more
positively, and surround myself with teammates like I have that are
very positive and are going to help me heal well. And I think I’ve
got an entire city behind my back.”
He is charting pitches to help out his teammates and learn
tendencies himself. He is learning to use his left hand to do jobs
such as lay carpet and hang televisions, challenging himself with
2,000-piece puzzles. He’d rather be pitching, of course, but knows
that time will come – and, he points out: ”I’m 30 and I’ve got a
new arm. That’s pretty awesome.” He even believes he might throw
”I’ve had to find some hobbies, that’s for sure. I’ve had a lot
of time on my hands,” Wilson said. ”I’ve just done everything,
pretty much. Can’t play video games `cause I don’t want to mess up
my forearm, but I’ve done a lot of puzzles.”
”Anywhere from like crosswords, riddles, and mostly just puzzle
pieces,” he said. ”Start off with a nice 500-piece and go from
there. Did the Taj Mahal. It was 2,000 pieces, pretty excited about
The hard-throwing right-hander also had the surgery while in
college at LSU in 2003 – also done by Andrews. On Sunday, he plans
to get in the broadcast booth with Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper.
Also Sunday, 25,000 fans will receive a Wilson garden gnome.
”I don’t gnome what you’re talking about,” he quipped. ”I
kind of like it. He’s pretty tan. Not really in shape. We wear the
same hats, obviously. It’ll be pretty fun. Hopefully I can get one.
I think I’m on the list.”
The 30-year-old closer led the majors with 48 saves in 2010 and
recorded the final out in Game 5 of the World Series at Texas to
clinch the franchise’s first championship since moving West in
The three-time All-Star complained of discomfort in the elbow
April 13. That was a day after Wilson threw 32 pitches at Colorado
while working on back-to-back days.
Wilson finished 6-4 with a 3.11 ERA and 36 saves in 57
appearances last season, held out down the stretch as a precaution.
He had taken all of the important steps in his rehab this spring,
so the injury caught everybody by surprise.
He now hopes to surprise everyone with a speedy return – and
Wilson isn’t afraid to make lofty projections.
”No, it’s not too early for that. Opening day,” he said.
”I’ll be closing it out. Unless someone throws a complete game,
which would be pretty sweet, too. I don’t imagine doing any rehab
starts. I’ll be here for spring training. Throw my 12, 13 innings
probably. I’ll be here Day One. That’s my choice, obviously. I
don’t know what they want. I’m sure they’d like that. I would
definitely argue for that, provided I prove all the necessary
progressions. Of course.”
While the Giants would be surprised to see Wilson ready by
opening day next spring, they know he might just be the guy to pull
”I wouldn’t rule it out with Willie and his work ethic,”
manager Bruce Bochy said. ”I’m sure he’s going to be religious
with the rehab. I can’t say it’s not going to happen. It’s not
something I thought would happen on opening day, but hopefully it
For now, he will keep on his rigorous rehab program and occupy
himself with the other activities he has found to take his mind off
missing the mound.
”The biggest puzzle I’m currently doing is my life, which isn’t
over yet,” Wilson said.